Cove Router for PRS-style Controls

12_control_recesses_zps4f8214afGreen Man is going to be a classic single-cut carved top guitar which will feature Schaller brass control knobs. These are 18mm in diameter and around 15mm in height. Traditionally on Les Paul style carved-tops (from which Green Man is very much rooted), the neck control pots for volume and tone are placed on a heavy curve. Gibson don’t care too much about this, but Paul Reed Smith took some consideration for aesthetics and rightfully addressed the issue of the gradient creating a large gap under the control knob. PRS’ approach was to ‘scoop’ out the potentiometer hole so that the control knob actually sits in a little basin valley.

The gap underneath the control pot is not too extreme on the more traditional speed-knob or top-hat style controls, but Schaller knobs are quite narrow so they can tend to stick out like a sore-Glastonbury-Tor.GlastonburyTor

IMG_3750There are varying accounts of how to create this ‘dish’ on the internet, and I haven’t actually done it before, so I have researched quite a bit recently. Ben Crowe at Crimson Guitars ingeniously ground a flat drill bit to a rounded end to create the curved recess when drilling. But I have read accounts and watched Perry Ormsby of Ormsby Guitars use a Cove Router bit to create this. A bearing at the end of the bit is sized to match the hole drilled for the potentiometer, which allows accurate progression into the timber for the coving. This should be done on a pedestal drill stand obviously so it will be interesting to see how this works with my Black and Decker hand drill! There may be a good chance of some of the grain being torn out due to the relatively slow speed of rotation in comparison to a router machine. So I am preparing for some carving afterwards if it all goes pear-shaped.

Once the controls have been coved I can start on staining the Maple-cap with several coats of black before sanding back to leave the grain darkened and a slight sun-burst effect. The top will then have a few coats of ‘purest-green’ to finish before being French polished.



Autumn 2014 – Autumn 2015MjolnirFull

Model Name: Mjölnir
Color: Clear Shellac
Body Shape: Single-cut Carved Top
Body Material: English Chestnut
Body Cap: Carved Wenge
Body Finish: Satin Shellac
Body Binding: Cream-Black-Cream
Strap Buttons: Chrome Dunlop Flush Fitting Straplok
Neck Type: Set Neck with All Access Joint
Neck Material: 1-Piece Walnut (scarf joint)
Headstock Style: Classic 3×3
Neck Shape: Uber-Wizard “C”
Neck Scale Length: 24.75”
Neck Binding: N/A
Headstock Binding: Cream-Black-Cream
Nut: Brass
Nut Width: 41 mm
Fingerboard: Ebony
Fingerboard Radius: Compound 12″-14″
Number of Frets: 24
Fret Size: Jumbo
Fingerboard Inlays: 3mm Steel Rings
Fingerboard Side Inlays: 2mm Black Dots
Neck Pickup: Bare Knuckle Miracle Man
Bridge Pickup: Bare Knuckle Miracle Man
Controls: Master volume
Pickup Switching: Classic 3-way Toggle
Hardware Finish: Chrome
Bridge: Schaller STM
Tuning Machines: Schaller Da Vinci
Pickguard: N/A
Control Knobs: Knurled Brass Chrome Finish
Switch Tips: Chrome
Unique Features:

  • Black Tahiti Pearl ‘Matt Guest’ Runic Headstock Inlay
  • Owen Jackson hand-made neck
  • Crimson Guitars hand-made body
  • Staggered ferrule, string-though carved-top body

Mjölnir was a project to achieve a guitar that would require no additional adornment other than it’s own figured tone wood. Imparting the spirit of a mythical hammer, I chose a almost entirely chromed finish of hardware to give a feel of steel. I wanted to create a soulful carved-top guitar with maximum tone and sustain; so a string-through body design was an obvious choice.

Originally planned as a homage to one of my favourite classic Metal bands, Manowar, this project was born as I listened to ‘Thor (The Powerhead’ at work. Thor’s hammer Mjölnir was an obvious symbol to base such a guitar on. Initially I had designs to inlay the Sign of the Hammer symbol across the fretboard in Mother of Pearl. However after offering up the designs to the fretboard, there was no acceptable area to apply the inlay without obscuring the image too much or damaging the aesthetics of balance. Inlaying the design on the body itself would have taken too much away from the beautifully figured Wenge top.

Therefore the fretboard was left totally blank. Visually this is beautiful for such a quality piece of Ebony, but this needed to be a work-horse of a guitar. Personal preference is paramount, and in my opinion some indication is required around the higher register of the neck. I decided to add steel-ring inlays, offset to the low E-string so that they were easily visible to the player, but as they are aligned closely with the ‘E’ and ‘A’ strings and are not full dots, to the bystander they are almost imperceptible.

The neck is a one-piece English Walnut, commissioned by Owen Jackson. This was one of two necks I sourced for the Thorn Project, so this has a very petite 41mm nut and Wizard profile. The guys at Crimson Guitars expertly took this bolt-on style neck and adapted it for a set-neck construction in Mjölnir. The neck-joint is a very comfortable all-access type, allowing fretting up around the second octave very natural.

I have yet to find superior pickups available in comparison to Bare Knuckle‘s. This time I chose a Miracle Man humbucker set, aiming for a slightly more trebly tone for achieving the ferocity of pinched harmonics. As will be apparent from my existing portfolio, I am not a fan of tone pots. I believe you can achieve all the tonal variations from the placement of the available pickups and choice of amplifier without masking the pure sound of the guitar/pickup combination. I opted for a single master volume pot in this case to limit the number of controls that would hide the beautiful Wenge grain.

Mjölnir body

Mjolnir carved topI had this project commissioned by Crimson Guitars in Dorset. As this will be a clear shellac finish ultimately, the importance of quality figured timber was paramount. The carved dark Wenge top will be in stark contrast to the lighter, golden English Chestnut body once the French Polishing is completed. Featuring Bareknuckle Miracle Man calibrated humbuckers at the heart of the body, all other hardware will be in matching Chrome finish.

See Mjölnir being carved in the Crimson Guitars workshop



Raven Projects : Muninn (1 of 2)

Spring 2012 – Spring 2014

muninn-frontModel Name: Muninn
Color: Anthracite
Body Material: Swamp Ash
Body Shape: MG/CR Raven
Body Finish: ‘Clear Wudtone’
Neck Material: Rock Maple
Neck Style: 3×3 Headstock, oiled finish
Neck Shape: Modern “C”
Scale Length: 24.75”
Fingerboard: Tear-drop/full scalloped maple
Fingerboard Radius: 10″
Number of Frets: 22
Fret Size: Jumbo
Full-body String Nut: Black graph-tec
Nut Width: 42 mm
Fingerboard Inlays: N/A
Side Inlays: Black dot
Neck Plate: N/A
Pickup Configuration: HB-HB
Bridge Pickup: EMG HZ4
Middle Pickup: N/A
Neck Pickup: EMG HZ4-A
Controls: Master volume, coil-splitting push-pull
Pickup Switching: 3-Position blade:

  • Bridge only
  • Bridge & neck
  • Neck only

Bridge: 6-Saddle, twin-pivot modern style floating tremolo
Hardware Finish: Black
Tuning Machines: Gibson ‘Tulip’ style
Pickguard: N/A
Control Knobs: Black speed-knob
Switch Tips: Black
Unique Features:

  • Custom abalone headstock inlay
  • Tear-drop’ scalloped fingerboard from frets 1 – 11
  • Fully scalloped fingerboard from frets 12 – 22
  • Coil-split function, changing humbuckers to single-coil
  • Machine-thread neck insert for neck-mounting
  • Fender locking strap buttons
  • Treble-bleed wiring modification

Originally planned as a single, unique design and build, I managed to get a good deal purchasing the timber and ended up with two Swamp Ash body blanks.With two potential builds, I decided to theme along the lines of Norse mythology primarily as I wanted to create a transparent black, natural finish that would enhance the figuring of the Swamp Ash grain, but also because it seemed cool. The inspiration for this colour effect was a Raven’s wing, so I decided to theme the builds as Odin’s Ravens, Muninn (memory) and Huginn (thought).The body design was the result of many long hours in consultation with Chloe, aiming for a contemporary mix of Les Paul and Super-Strat body styles whilst keeping our own unique twist. The right horn was finished with a bevelled edge for a sword-edge like emphasis and was cut deep to allow easy access to the high fret area.This guitar was designed to look and feel sharp and edgy, and so I felt it needed a very fast action. The scalloping process was arduous but worthwhile, and has resulted in a super-slick experience, excellent for both 80’s style shredding and hard SRV style blues-bends. Frets 1 – 11 have been scalloped to a tear-drop profile to allow easier bar-chord playing, while frets 12 – 22 have the more traditional full scallop made famous by artists such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai. High output passive pickups have been used to give an appropriate darkness to the sound, whilst keeping smooth tones in the Humbucker configuration. Pulling the Volume knob up into position splits the coils resulting in single-coil configuration, for a sharper more vintage sound.

” Huginn and Muninn Fly every day
over the mighty earth.
I fear for Huginn that he may not return,
yet more I fear for Muninn.”

– Odin, translated from Old Norse

Follow the design and build diary of Muninn…


Burning Sun Les Paul

Burning Sun Les Paul

Summer 2013spalted-gibson-white-background-small

Model Name: Burning Sun LP
Color: Burning Sun
Body Material: Mahogany body, Spalted Maple top
Body Shape: Les Paul
Body Finish: Wudtone – ‘Burning Sun’
Neck Material: Rock Maple
Neck Style: Gibson style headstock, oiled finish
Neck Shape: Modern “C”
Scale Length: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Fingerboard Radius: 9.5″
Number of Frets: 21
Fret Size: Jumbo
Full-body String Nut: White plastic
Nut Width: 42 mm
Fingerboard Inlays: N/A
Side Inlays: Black dot
Neck Plate: 4-Bolt gold – MG ‘Demon’ custom design
Pickup Configuration: HB-HB
Bridge Pickup: Epiphone ’57 Classic with plastic cover
Middle Pickup: N/A
Neck Pickup: Epiphone ’57 Classic with plastic cover

  • Volume 1 – Neck pickup
  • Volume 2 – Bridge pickup
  • Master Tone
  • Arcade style kill-switch

Pickup Switching: 3-way toggle
Bridge: Tune-o-matic stop-tailpiece
Hardware Finish: Black
Tuning Machines: Epiphone ‘Tulip’ style
Pickguard: N/A
Control Knobs: Black speed-knob
Switch Tips: Black

Unique Features:

    • Custom designed ‘MG Demon’ neck-plate
    • Kill-switch modification
    • Locking strap buttons
    • Treble-bleed wiring modification


This guitar body was salvaged from the manufacturer as it had a slight imperfection in the left shoulder, which had been inlaid with a mismatch piece of timber. The sponge-like spalted maple top absorbed all of the golden tones of the Wudtone Burning Sun application, and was a pleasure to apply.

I decided to add a prog-metal style kill-switch into this guitar as a prototype for one I intended to add to my own personal Les Paul. This works very well in execution for staccato-style riffs, but it just wasn’t for me so I never adopted this for my own Les Paul.

Follow the design & build diary of the ‘Burning Sun’ Les Paul…


Muninn Diary

The build process of Muninn progressed at a slow but steady pace. The lack of a designated workshop can sometimes be challenging…